While there are a litany of stories that have been spawned following the Iowa Caucuses, one I can’t stop laughing about is Sen. Marco Rubio’s speech from Monday night. While I’ll fully agree that he was probably just as much of a “winner” that night as Sen. Ted Cruz, he still finished third. But if you listened to his speech after the final results were in, you would have thought he won the whole damn thing and crushed his competition. Again, he finished third – like all the polls had predicted he would.
Here’s a part of his ridiculous speech from Monday night:
So, this is the moment they said would never happen. For months, for months they told us we had no chance. For months they told us because we offered too much optimism in a time of anger we had no chance. For months, they told us because we didn’t have the right endorsements or the right political connections, we had no chance. They told me we had no chance because my hair wasn’t gray enough and my boots were too high. They told me I needed to wait my turn.
I have no idea what in the world he’s talking about. They said it would never happen? That he had no chance?
He didn’t win! He finished third!
Were his numbers slightly better than most expected? Sure, but not by a whole lot. The last three polls out of Iowa had him getting anywhere between 17-22 percent of the vote: He got 23.
So, yes, he did perform decently – but that’s not because people were rushing to support him and his ideas. He gained much of his late “surge” from voters who basically undecided until the day of the caucus. In other words, he was the “safe” vote.
To put it in another way, he’s 2016’s Mitt Romney.
First, let’s discuss the elephant in the room. Donald Trump seems to have overestimated how much skipping the last GOP debate would hurt him in Iowa, which undoubtedly pushed a few voters toward other candidates. So, while the end results are indisputable, context also matters. Had Trump’s arrogance not gotten the better of him, he probably would have won Iowa.
Let’s also not ignore that Iowa is a state with a large evangelical base of voters and Cruz and Rubio were the top two “God hustlers” who basically became preachers more than presidential candidates in the last few weeks before the caucus.
Though when you get right down to it, Rubio got the “Romney bump.” He got the voters who know Trump and Cruz would probably get crushed in a general election, so they chose the “most electable” establishment candidate. Because if these people really supported his ideas, it wouldn’t have taken them until the day of the election to support him.
With Jeb Bush’s campaign all but done, Rubio is really the only “electable” establishment candidate left (which should scare the crap out of Republicans since Rubio himself isn’t electable). That’s why “late deciders” chose him. They simply went with the safe candidate, which is exactly what propelled Romney to his 2012 nomination. Millions of conservatives realizing that they would rather take their shot with who they thought was the “most electable” over taking a chance with a fringe candidate who would likely get crushed in the general election.
So, while poor Marco Rubio goes around talking about the results of the Iowa Caucus as if they’re some sort of incredible “sign” that the American people are believing in his message, the sad truth is that he’s just this year’s Mitt Romney. Go ahead and nominate him, he’ll get crushed by either Bernie Sanders or Hillary Clinton in the general election.